Saturday, May 07, 2016

Ocmulgee National Monument

We had decided to cruise up through Georgia on the way home to see a few places from my youth where I had not been for decades. These were places that I just wanted to view once more, and which Carole wanted to see for the first time.

When I was a kid I lived in Macon, Georgia for--I think--three years. One of the few nice things that I recalled about Macon was the Ocmulgee National Monument located just across the Ocmulgee River from downtown Macon. I was both pleased and surprised that the skyline of my one-time town had not changed one iota since I was a kid. It's rare to see a town the size of Macon not raise a single large building over the course of four decades.

I think I visited the Ocmulgee mound complex about five times or so during the three years we lived there. As I recalled from my childhood, it is indeed an impressive display of Native American culture and engineering. The large temple mound there is impressive by any standards of earthen mound construction by the people who lived here first. That mound, and several others in the monument, are vast. The society that built it was obviously complex and cohesive to have been able to undertake a public works project such as the one that left us with these amazing structures.

We had the good fortune to arrive at Ocmulgee during an outdoor class session for one of the local public schools. It was being taught by a Native American couple. I didn't get there in time to hear from which tribe they hailed, but their teaching process and personalities were sharp. They explained the long history of the native peoples of the Americas and showed the steady development of stone-age technology among the nations that were here before the Europeans.

Like the Wright Brothers Memorial at the Outer Banks, this is one of the National Monuments that Americans should visit. It impressed me at the same level as that one at Kill Devil Hill and is both inspirational and educational.

The museum and visitor's center building. I really dig this style of architecture.

The Earth Lodge. One has to duckwalk to enter it. The doorway is (maybe) three feet high. This lodge is over 1,000 years old.

Hallway to the meeting room in the Earth Lodge.

Interior shot. The raised platform is where three speakers/moderators/chiefs would have sat. Other seats radiated out from the central platform which seemed to me something like the bema.

The interior of the Earth Lodge.

After a half-mile hike, Carole and I approach the main temple mound.

The view from atop the main temple mound. You could play a football game up there. That's the skyline of downtown Macon across the river in the distance. There were likely various lodges constructed on the flat plateau of the mound.

To give you a good scale of the main temple mound, this is part of the staircase leading to the top. Carole is about halfway down, descending.


Edward Forrest Frank said...

I need to go see this sometime.

James Robert Smith said...

Well worth seeing. The most impressive North American temple mound and mound complex I've seen, and I've seen a lot of them.